Techniques to Teach Preschoolers Vocabulary

Wouldn't it be nice if your preschooler stopped throwing fits and started conversing in an "adult manner"? Your youngster can't help but burst your eardrums because he doesn't always know the right words to express his thoughts. Help solve the issue by teaching your preschooler vocabulary that helps him express his needs and gives him the "building blocks" for future language and reading development.

Items and Pictures

Use the items you already have around you to teach your preschooler new words. This simple technique saves your pocketbook -- and saves you from chasing your kiddo through the store. Because your child may have basic vocabulary words down pat, choose more "difficult" items for this activity. Pick up a saucer and say, "This is a saucer. Can you say the word, too?" Encourage him to repeat the word and praise him for his efforts, even if it doesn't sound quite like your pronunciation. Don't worry about inundating your youngster with new terms. The natural repetition will soon leave you with a know-it-all.


Read, read, read to your child. Any material that naturally interests your preschooler will do, so grab a favorite children's book or even a magazine (as long as it's appropriate). As your child starts to memorize familiar stories, point to illustrations or words and ask her to tell you the word. You can also go through the book ahead of time and place small, removable sticky notes over certain words. When you come to the sticky note, ask your child to guess the word under the paper. If she has trouble, slowly pull the sticky note back, revealing one letter at time. Then, ask her to define the word and help look for other times it appears in the story.


Use your label-maker for something other than home organization. Choose frequently encountered items to label throughout your home. To make it even more challenging for your genius preschooler, choose words that may have slang terms that he may be more familiar with than the "true" vocabulary word. Print out the word "refrigerator," for instance, and stick it on the front of your fridge. When he walks to the fridge, say, "That is a refrigerator. Sometimes we call it a fridge." Then point out the label.

Vocabulary Cards

Play like a kid again and create a vocabulary game for your youngster. Take photos of objects or actions your child encounters during the day. Using photos of items in your child's environment helps her relate the picture to the vocabulary word. Print them out on index cards and write the name of the object below the photo to help your eager learner associate what the written vocabulary word looks like. Show your child the photo, and then ask her to tell you the word for the picture. You can adapt this activity for even the most verbal and chatty preschooler by taking a picture of falling snow, for example. Your preschooler will likely tell you the word in the photograph is "snow." Point out that while this is true, there are other names for this, like "flurry."